Inter-Regional Spatial Planning Agreement Formalised (Auckland-Hamilton)

Train route still short by 15km

The Auckland to Hamilton Corridor is about 140km long (100km if going from Papakura to Te Rapa which is where most studies focus). The two transport modes are either State Highway 1 or the North Island Main Trunk Line. Auckland and Hamilton are close enough to be within the magical 100-150km maximum efficiency range of both same day freight movement and the reach of Port of Auckland (Hamilton is also at similar distance to Port of Tauranga hence the push for multi-modal freight hubs to the east of the city). That same maximum efficiency range also applies to either an Aucklander or Hamiltonian having to day trip to the other city by car (or rail if it is running). As a side fact to go from the southern end of Auckland to the northern end is about the same distance as well using State Highway 1.

So with two cities close to each other the smaller of the two will act as a symbiotic Satellite and the space between the two cities become prime for development to support both the main City and the Satellite.

Cue Central Government pulling Auckland and Waikato together and formalising the first ever inter-regional spatial planning agreement:

First urban growth partnership signed

New Zealand’s first urban growth partnership between the Government, local councils and mana whenua was signed at a meeting of mayors, chairs and ministers in Hampton Downs today.

Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the Hamilton-Auckland Corridor initiative is an example of the Government’s strong commitment to working in partnership with councils, iwi and the private sector to improve the way our towns and cities grow and develop.

“Under this new partnership, we will strategically manage development between New Zealand’s fastest two growing metropolitan areas in innovative new ways.

“This is also the first time two regions in New Zealand have joined together with the Government to integrate and coordinate the planning and building of housing, transport and other supporting infrastructure and services. Waikato Tainui and the local councils are well-used to working together and I’m pleased central government is now to join them on this important project for both region’s future,” Phil Twyford said.

Also known as H2A, Hei Awarua ki te Oranga stretches from Papakura in the north to Cambridge and Te Awamutu in the south.

At the core of the Corridor are three key networks: the Waikato and Waipa Rivers, the Main Trunk Line and the Waikato Expressway.

Phil Twyford said the partnership’s work programme includes initiatives that could strengthen the Corridor connections. These include blue-green connections such as walking and cycling trails along the Waikato River to the Manukau harbour, new intercity rapid rail services and a new mass transit network for the emerging Hamilton-Waikato metropolitan area.

“Work is underway on a Cabinet-mandated business case for a modern, rapid rail line connecting Auckland and Hamilton that would unite two of the country’s largest labour markets,” he said.

Māori Development and Associate Housing Minister – and MP for Hauraki-Waikato – Nanaia Mahuta said an early priority would be to unlock Hamilton’s growth potential. “With its outstanding transport connections, plentiful land and the key role it plays in the region’s export economy, Hamilton is poised to become an even higher growth but affordable urban centre. I am pleased that Waikato-Tainui have been central to this approach all the way through.

“Strategic planning will protect and enhance the quality of both region’s natural environments, as well as their cultural heritage. It will also help boost the supply of affordable housing options to the communities that need them the most.

“This partnership aims to unlock the significant growth potential in Southern Auckland and the Hamilton-Waikato metropolitan area, underpinned by new rapid and commuter rail connections. The transport network will direct where much-needed housing will be developed and connect our people to growing employment opportunities in both the Waikato and Auckland,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

Source: First urban growth partnership signed

A graphic representation of the H2A corridor:

The Hamilton to Auckland Corridor. Source: via Greater Auckland

I have written and presented on developing the Corridor in the past. The most recent version of it being here: How Auckland can Preserve its southern Food Bowl while Boosting the northern Waikato Economy

In essence:

  • There is unemployment issues along the corridor with the previous loss of industry and the Waikato Expressway bypassing towns
  • Long commutes by road to either Hamilton or Auckland
  • Potential of existing towns developing into full fledged mini Satellites that would act as a pressure relief value to Auckland while rejuvenating employment in the area
  • Heavy Industry leaving Auckland to cheaper land in the corridor
  • Movement of freight
  • Preservation of the Food Bowl in Pukekohe
  • New infrastructure needed (that will not be cheap)

However, I do have one small issue: that is H2A should be extended to Manukau and Puhinui Station not Papakura.


Step 4 and 5 of Manukau Framework Plan Source: Panuku Development Auckland

Panuku have it summed up in a nutshell.

Manukau is the closest major large Metropolitan Centre that also serves the Airport, Wiri and the primary residential base of Southern Auckland. Puhinui from 2021 will be the interchange for Airport to Botany meaning Hamilton to Auckland trains can stop at Puhinui and allow transfers to the airport. Given the location of logistics hubs and the services that support them are located in or near Manukau including the Metropolitan Centre in H2A would be most prudent. So please extend the corridor another 15km north please.

It will be interesting to see the Finance Plan around how to fund the development of the corridor as it will not be cheap for the Councils. Also how strong of a role will Government be in the continued Spatial Planning along the corridor given we have multiple Councils with often very different objectives (Auckland pretty much ignores everything south of the border despite the strong links we have with the Waikato)?

All will be revealed soon enough I suppose.